Chris Kamara discusses his underactive thyroid diagnosis
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An underactive thyroid occurs when your body fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid is responsible for providing energy to almost every organ in your body. It most commonly impacts people aged 60 and over, but can begin at any age.
An underactive thyroid gland (also known as hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.
Over time this can lead to a number of health problems including obesity and joint pain.
The thyroid gland is located in the front lower part of your neck.
Hormones released by the gland travel through your bloodstream and impact almost every part of your body, including your heart, muscles and skin.
The thyroid controls how your body’s cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism.
Your metabolism impacts your body’s temperature, heartbeat and how well you burn calories.
If you do not have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes will slow down.
This means your body makes less energy and your metabolism becomes sluggish.
What are the symptoms of an underactive thyroid?
There are several key signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid – all of which differ depending on the individual person.
The most common signs of underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain and feelings of depression.
In addition, symptoms may include a puffy, sensitive face, constipation, feeling cold, decreased sweating, slowed heart rate and elevated blood cholesterol.
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You may also experience dry skin and dry thinning hair.
Impaired memory, fertility difficulties or menstrual changes and muscle weakness are other symptoms of the condition.
Some sufferers also experience muscle stiffness, aches and tenderness.
People with an underactive thyroid can also experience pain and stiffness in their joints, as well as hoarseness.
For most people, symptoms of this condition will gradually develop over many years.
As the thyroid is more impacted, the symptoms will become more easily identifiable.
The only accurate way to find out whether you have a thyroid problem is to undertake a thyroid function test.
During this test, a sample of blood is tested to measure your hormone levels.
Both men and women can have an underactive thyroid – but it is more common in women.
Children can also develop this condition, with some babies even born with it.
All babies in the UK are screened for congenital hypothyroidism using a blood spot test when a baby is about five days old.
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